JEAIL > Volume 4(2); 2011 > Regional Focus & Controversies
Research Paper
Published online: November 30, 2011

The Whaling Dispute in the South Pacific: An Australian Perspective

Ruth Davis
University of Wollongong, Australia
Faculty of Law, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In May 2010 Australia commenced litigation against Japan in the International Court of Justice over the legality of Japanese scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean. This article considers the background to the litigation, the basis of Australia's opposition to whaling, and the grounds upon which Australia is mounting its challenge. The interpretation of the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and the operation of the International Whaling Commission are considered in light of the precautionary principle. The article concludes that Australia's success depends upon a broad reading of the Convention that takes into account its objects and purposes, as well as wider developments in international law. Any guidance that the International Court of Justice can provide on the modern interpretation of this now dated Convention is to be welcomed.

Keywords : International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, Scientific Whaling, Japanese Whaling, Southern Ocean, International Whaling Commission, Whaling Litigation

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